Words of Hope: Prayer as Resistance
One of the practices of contemplative prayer is eliminating prayer as performance. I consider how much poor religion gravitates toward perfection, judgment, us and them, pageantry, and power. Many churches have become a place to listen to the best musicians and pastors. Enter the doors, sit down, watch the performance, and participate in some superficial ways. I love the churches of the Eucharist or when I can witness a baptism which is always radiant and surprising. However, many pastors’ messages are dogmatic, excoriating, dry, impersonal, and lifeless. It is rare to find life-filled, radiant, transformative messages coming from the pulpit in a spirit of vulnerability, transparency, and truth. I have witnessed some and they are truly healing.
Contemplative prayer removes the performance of prayer and instead helps us to experience the sacred and holy communion of soul with the Almighty. God desiring to speak to us, desiring us to slow down, to stop talking, stop posing and pretending, or castigating ourselves and others; listening, not as fixing, trying, accomplishing, achieving, and not prayer as ego. This type of prayer helps me to relinquish power, wanting my way, needing an answer, or an absolute solution to a difficulty as I let go of my need to direct God.
Contemplative prayer practice is listening without judging or jumping to conclusions; listening to bring me closer to the heart of God. Staying in the prayer until my internal emotional suffering has abated teaches me about solace. Prayer as resistance to fear, ego, bitterness, revenge, selfishness, and performance. Prayer as a conduit to hope, joy, peace, faith, and love.
The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
to all who call on Him in truth.
– Psalm 145:18